(EJNews) – Israel was one of over 80 different countries on display at Hawrelak Park this past weekend for the 2016 edition of the Servus Heritage Festival. The Festival was one of the largest celebrations of culture Edmonton has ever seen, and thanks to the efforts and creativity of Pavilion Chair Christina Tzipora Reboh and her hard working team of volunteers from within the Edmonton Jewish community, the Israel Pavilion was one of the most vibrant.
After two days of less than ideal weather, the skies cleared on Monday with an estimated one-day turnout of 135,000 bringing the total number of festival visitors to 300,000. That represents the third highest one-day attendance in the festival’s history.
“The Servus Heritage Festival is about sharing your culture with the world and Edmonton,” Festival Organizer Jim Gibbon said. The Israel pavilion, sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Edmonton celebrated Israeli culture, and at the same time it educated visitors about the many facets of Israel and Jewish culture, food, history and dance.
This included an oasis in the Negev desert, a Western Wall where visitors could write notes that will later be taken to the real Western Wall in Israel and a wide selection of delicious foods to sample. The menu included Falafel, grilled eggplant, lemon cabbage salad, and hummus drizzled with tahini and served with pita bread; Blintzes; Deep-Fried Pickles; Sufganiyot; Watermelon and Lemonana – a refreshing Israeli version of lemonade with mint.
The highlight of the Israeli Pavilion was the entertainment which featured a fabulous assortment of energetic and colourful Israeli dances performed by the wonderfully talented Aviv Israeli Folk dancers.
Once again the hard work and vibrant cultural presentation of the Israeli Pavilion committee was recognized by the Heritage Festival Board of Directors with a second place award for Arts and Crafts.
Other award winners included: For Food Services: 1st place Poland, 2nd place Jamaica and 3rd place Chile. For Entertainment: 1st place Ukraine, 2nd place Chinese and 3rd place Cambodia. For Arts and Crafts: 1st place Arab Heritage and Wales, 2nd place Israel and 3rd place Ukraine.
There were 67 different pavilions to enjoy this year, representing over 80 countries. New this year was a pavilion set up by the Mennonite Centre for Newcomers featuring: Mali, Togo, Barbados, Burundi and Syria. Puerto Rico, Liberia, Uganda, Tanzania, Spain, Somalia, Mexico were also new or returning to the festival.
This year, the festival opened with all pavilion volunteers pausing to sing Canada’s national anthem in their native language and it culminated with a very special citizenship ceremony for 60 newcomers to Canada.
In addition to being a wonderful cultural celebration, the event is the largest ‘foodraiser’ for Edmonton’s Food Bank. Last year over 85,000 kilograms of food was collected. However, as of Sunday evening, Edmonton’s Food Bank had collected just 16,000 kg of its 50,000 kilograms of food goal. That means that food donations are down and the Food Bank is still in need of donations.
“The many wonderful events overlapping and the weather has taken a toll on the food drive,” said Marjorie Bencz, CM, Executive Director. “People wishing to support our work can do so by making a food donation at any major grocery store or City of Edmonton fire station until Friday, August 5 for the campaign. Donors can also donate online securely by visiting edmontonsfoodbank.com through the CanadaHelps portal. Unused food tickets can be dropped off to the main warehouse at 11508-120 Street.”
Enjoy our photo gallery below. Photos by Dan Moser.